Posted: Monday, November 30, 2020. 6:27 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Each December 1, the world stops to commemorate World AIDS Day, dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, to recognize those who continue to work to end AIDS, and to pause and remember those who have left us because of this disease.
The Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Dr. Rosmond Adams, has saluted three regional “Public Health Champions” for their response in support of people living with HIV/AIDS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of those is Belize’s Enrique Romero, the Executive Director of the National AIDS Commission (NAC).
Romero allied with social workers, adherence counsellors from the Ministry of Health, Peer Navigators, NAC District Committees and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to conduct a Needs Assessment of People Living with HIV, which found that many of these desperately needed food items to remain adherent to their medication.
Romero subsequently secured from the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, as it then was, expedited assistance to these individuals through the Government of Belize’s “Food Assistance Programme” which was created to address such needs during the pandemic.
Loss of employment, lack of essential living support and depleting nutritional supplies are some of the main issues that undermine adherence to HIV medication. COVID-19 has exacerbated these circumstances, said Dr Adams.
This year’s theme is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”, which effectively captures, says Dr Adams, “the phenomenal efforts of our public health champions in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic while working to maintain the gains made in the HIV response.” Others saluted in the region hail from Jamaica and Barbados, but there are many more such stories to share, Dr Adams said.
He concluded, “I do believe that despite the challenges of 2020, our Region can amplify the HIV response and fulfil the mandate of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) of a Caribbean free of AIDS and new HIV infections, in which all people are happier, healthier, productive, safe and respected.”
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